Cuts in Southern Sudanese education budget put progress at riskSeptember 08, 2009
During the last three years, the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has slashed its education budget by more than 25 percent, from $134 million to $100 million. This is particularly disappointing given the remarkable improvements in enrolment rates since the 2005 peace agreement. Budget cuts of this magnitude are likely to adversely affect the quality of education services. With literacy rates at 20 percent, and 10 percent among women, much remains to be done.
On International Literacy Day this Tuesday, September 8, Jesuit Refugee Service/Eastern Africa highlights the importance of education in Southern Sudan and encourages the GoSS to allocate sufficient resources to protect and improve upon the achievements to date. JRS/EA also urges donors and the international community to provide sufficient assistance.
“Education is the key to development. It enhances human dignity, helping people reach their full potential, improve their quality of life and become politically mature citizens. These are all qualities Southern Sudan badly needs for a stable future. The GoSS, the international community and aid agencies have to join together to make this a reality for the people of Southern Sudan," says Fr. Frido Pflueger, S.J., JRS/EA Director.
According to a UNICEF report last year, school attendance rates in Southern Sudan have tripled in the last four years. Since 2005, they have increased from 343,000 – then the lowest in the world – to more than 1.3 million today. Despite this improvement, attendance rates for girls remain much lower than those for boys. Economic hardship, in addition to socio-cultural values and practices, such as early marriage, continues to prevent girls from attending school. More needs to be done to convince parents and communities of the value of education, especially for girls.
Shortages of trained and paid teachers pose another major challenge to education. Only seven percent of primary teachers in Southern Sudan have received formal training. While another 48 percent have participated in in-service training, the remainder have received no training.
“In the border county of Kajo Keji, JRS has trained three quarters of the teachers since 2001. But more teachers need to be recruited and salaries will have to be paid regularly if student-teacher ratios and staff motivation are to be enhanced,” says Andre Atsu Agbogan, JRS Southern Sudan Director.
Investment in teachers and students pays off. JRS recently offered 150 marginalized secondary school students an exam preparation course in Yei.
“This was a turning point for me, as I gained essential knowledge for my final exams. In two weeks, none of the teachers missed a lesson, unlike in my school where sometimes we spend the whole day doing nothing,” says course participant, John Wani.
Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
202-462-0400 ext. 5946
202-462-0400 ext. 5946